Ding Liren took down Caruana after starting out with 2 straight losses
Alekseenko, Kirill v Nepomniachtchi, Ian ½-½
Ding, Liren v Caruana, Fabiano 1-0
Giri, Anish v Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime ½-½
Grischuk, Alexander v Wang, Hao ½-½
Caruana, Fabiano v Alekseenko, Kirill 1-0
Nepomniachtchi, Ian v Grischuk, Alexander ½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime v Ding, Liren 1-0
Wang, Hao v Giri, Anish ½-½
Ding, Liren v Wang, Hao 0-1
Giri, Anish v Nepomniachtchi, Ian 0-1
Grischuk, Alexander v Alekseenko, Kirill ½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime v Caruana, Fabiano ½-½
Standings after 3 rounds
1 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2
Wang, Hao 2
4 Grischuk, Alexander 1.5
Caruana, Fabiano 1.5
6 Giri, Anish 1
Alekseenko, Kirill 1
Ding, Liren 1
Ding Liren's sensational comeback against Caruana
In a duel between the two favorites to win the chess Candidates, China’s Ding Liren – who started with two losses – made a comeback in the third round and defeated World #2 chess player, American Fabiano Caruana. This was the only game with a decisive outcome on the third day of the 2020 Candidates and it made the tournament wide open again.
A day before the first break at the eight-player 2020 Candidates Tournament, there are three players in the lead – Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) and Wang Hao (China), all on 2/3.
Every game in the Candidates is critical, but this was especially the case for Ding Liren in Round Three. The first two days were challenging for the Chinese player: Seen as the favorite to win the Candidates, he surprisingly lost the first two games.
A few minutes before the third round, he was sitting in his chair, staring at the board, completely oblivious to his opponent who quietly set across. The Chinese player opened with d4. Caruana opted for the Slav Defence, an unlikely opening for him. A few moves down the line and the first interesting moment of the game occurred: Caruana played a novelty 9…e5, sacrificing a pawn. The American played this move fast (suggesting it was pre-prepared) and left the board. The Chinese player got into a deep think. He managed to find an accurate line and confidently progress and threaten to take the upper hand in the game. To keep the initiative, Black (Caruana) sacrificed another pawn, hoping to expose the white king. Ding Liren, however, managed to consolidate his material advantage and take away the initiative from Black. Despite being in a lost position, Caruana kept on playing, hoping to create some chances, but it was to no avail. The Chinese player – although in time trouble – confidently pressed on and forced his opponent to resign.
This game was an important milestone for Ding Liren, whose confidence will be bolstered after this victory against the second player in the world. In the interview following the game, he said he hopes to recover to his top form and get back to the top of the scoreboard.
Friday is a rest day at the 2020 Candidates. Round Four of the 2020 Candidates Tournament starts at 4 PM local time on March 21. The pairings for the third round are:
Fabiano Caruana (USA) Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)
Hao Wang (CHN) Kirill Alekseenko (RUS)
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) Alexander Grischuk (RUS)
Liren Ding (CHN) Anish Giri (NED)
Text: Milan Dinic